My day begins; I slide my cubicle door open and drop my backpack on the floor. Glancing around my 6 foot by 6 foot square I search for a better place to set my helmet, but like every other day I give-up after a moment and start my day with a loss. I set the helmet on my perpetually cluttered desk - item after item, task after task that I need to complete, but will forget about by the time I have the opportunity to get to it. I see a receipt. “Expense report. I have to get it done today. I was suppose to get it done yesterday, but I will actually do it today,” I think to myself.
I hear someone knock on my open cubicle door. The person starts talking as I spin towards my co-worker in my chair, “Hey, if you have a minute this morning I have a couple of questions for you.” One minute. It never takes just one minute.
I start wondering what the questions might be about. Maybe it’s about the event coming up? Or maybe it's finally has a response to the request I submitted? “Do you think you will have a few minutes?” Oh, the co-worker was still standing there waiting for me to respond. “Yeah, I’ll be there in minute.” I'll probably use a loose definition of “a minute” too.
Wait. Where was I with my “morning routine”? Outlook. I need to look at my calendar and see if I have any urgent emails. Where’s my laptop? It’s still in my backpack.
I pull out my laptop and hook it up to my power cord, network cable and my second monitor (which I always have on, but am not sure how to make use of). I open Outlook and nervously await the flood of notifications as it connects to the server.
Ok, now to prioritize my response. One of the emails that came through is marked high priority. I click on it. As I am about to read it someone says my name in the office, “Is Brandon in here? I just sent you an email.” Oh really?
“Could you get to it as soon as possible?” I'm asked. I respond, “Actually, I’m trying to read it right now.” I hear someone walking towards my cubicle, “Oh good, I’ll just come over and we can figure it out.” Because you know, reading it right now is apparently the same as having time to figure it out.
My calendar. I never checked my calendar and I have that feeling that I was suppose to be somewhere in a few minutes. I click on my calendar and then look up because the first person has stepped slightly in my cubicle again. “Hey, if you want me to get that request done, I need information from you right now. This is urgent.” Because, if we waited one more minute it seems the whole world would fall apart.
I can’t get out of my cubicle. I feel trapped. I feel boxed in. I’m in a box. I’m in-box. INBOX. Email is evil – it’s a trap. Wait. I have got to stop getting distracted.
I was supposed to check my calendar. I continue to ignore the person standing in my cubicle and glance at my schedule for today. I have a meeting at 9:00 o’clock at Starbucks. It’s 9:06 AM. That’s 1 minute past the “hey, I’m running a few minutes late” grace period.
If I had just been able to get a better start to the morning… if people had not bothered me in my office I might have made it to the meeting. Now what do I do? Do I text, apologize and still go? Or do I text, apologize and try to re-schedule? Or do I not apologize and come up with a really solid excuse?
I could just say, “I had something high priority and urgent come up.” Cryptic – but I mean both of those words were used so it’s pretty much true. Or I could write a text about how I honestly felt… yeah probably not a good idea this morning.
Now it’s 9:08 AM and I am already missing appointments, bothered with co-workers and frustrated with myself. And this is my dream job – this is the job I’ve worked towards since I was a child.
Am I exaggerating just to make a point? Or can our biggest dreams in life often be far off from our expectations? The big dreams, living out our ideals and holding fast to our passions can still become mundane and route. People that we believe in and care for can be the very ones who drive us crazy – who can disappoint us the most.
I sit in the office for the job I’ve dreamed about having since I was in 6th grade and it honestly does not live up to many of my expectations. I have “checked off” my biggest life goal up until now. This is the dream. I’m living the dream, but some days the dream can get old.
Do I hate my job? No, quite the opposite. I love it. I'm honored to have it. I get to serve with incredible people. But it’s the things you love that have the greatest potential to disappoint. Do I stop dreaming to protect myself?
No. The dreams can’t stop; the hope must be correctly placed. Day in and day out we can be disappointed, but day in and day out I am reminded that I have a hope greater than my circumstances. That even though the job does not feel as glorified as my dream, that I still serve the one who is to be glorified – and he keeps leading me to dream hope filled dreams.
Some days are amazing, but many days feel routine. That's why I pursue community with others and I focus on the hope that God has given me. I let His truth make meaning admits the seemingly most meaningless tasks in my life. I let His love define my identity even when I desperately want to feel insecure and insignificant.
This is not a theology for those in the workplace. It’s simply letting you in my mind and heart as I wrestle to reconcile the busy work of helping run an organization and the moments of relational disappointment in life with the inspirational dreams and undeniable hope that I cannot and will not abandon.
We serve a good God and even though today might feel different than we dreamed, you and I have an eternal hope in the compassionate creator that keeps pursuing us. We were created in his image. We were created by the Creator to create – to live outside the box and be compassionate
Whether it's a cubicle, email, a relationship, or expectations that you feel boxed-in by, find ways to live above them and beyond them. Tomorrow is a new day; let’s live outside the box.
- Brandon Maddux